Diddy peanut shooting Nintendo character / FRI 12-29-17 / Swirly sweet seller / TV spinoff beginning in 2004 / Letters before Q /

Friday, December 29, 2017

Constructor: David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium


THEME: none 

Word of the Day: Erika SLEZAK (46D: Erika with six Daytime Emmys) —
Erika Alma Hermina Slezak (/ˈslzæk/; born August 5, 1946) is an American actress, best known for her role as Victoria Lord on the American daytime soap opera One Life to Live from 1971 through the television finale in 2012 and again in the online revival in 2013. She is one of the longest-serving serial actors in American media.

• • •

Today was a day I got a lot of help from my winter vacation TV-viewing habits. Just yesterday I watched the godawful "Babes in Toyland" (1934) starring Laurel & Hardy (I thought they were supposed to be funny) and one of the main figures in Toyland—the female lead, in fact: BO PEEP (1D: Children's character associated with a crook). Plunked her down without hesitation. Later on, when I was very stuck in the only part of the puzzle that was at all hard, I was able to bail myself out because the TV show I've been devouring for the past couple weeks—the one set primarily at a country club in *New Jersey*—is called "RED OAKs" (44D: New Jersey's state tree). If only I played Nintendo or watched a lot of daytime television, I might've set a Friday record. As it was, pretty average. Puzzle quality, however, was above average for sure. Lots of entertaining and unusual fill, with EVIL GRIN being probably my favorite. I have to say, though, that having OXYCONTIN in the puzzle, in the middle of an opioid epidemic—especially when the NYT's own top-of-the-home-page story today is about how the opioid epidemic has overwhelmed the foster care system—that was depressing. Total downer of a way to start off. Obviously it's a useful prescription medication, a morally neutral term, but the context of the current crisis made it taste pretty bad.


Here's where the wheels came off, or started to wobble, at any rate:


This is after a brief struggle with KONG (??) (34D: Diddy ___ (peanut-shooting Nintendo character)) and DENT (I had WELT) (41A: Bad impression?). Looking back, I regret that a. I put in SLEZAK (must've rung a bell) but then revoked it when nothing happened. I never ever should've put DEN in there at 60D: Leopard spot (ZOO). Wrong guesses kill, folks. The secret to fast solving is uncommitting to wrong answers. ("Any man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error": CICERO) See how nothing wants to touch DEN? There's a reason! Also, I confused "successor" and "predecessor" in my head and so completely misunderstood 40D: Whigs' successor, briefly. I wanted GOP right away, but a. obviously they did not come before the Whigs, and b. GOP would've conflicted with GLUE, which really felt like the right answer at 43A: Stick it to? (GORE). I also entered and retracted CURD at some point (56D: Bean ___). Pulled DEN and finally got GOP / GORE to work, and thus REPEAT (50A Do over), and then (finally!) a breakthough with TABBY, which made LAMB and OKEY both (eventually) visible. That "Y" in DEARY ME was lethal. I know "DEAR ME!" which seems a pretty good equivalent for ["Heavens to Betsy!"]. I sat there forever with "DEAR ... !?!?!?$@#&%^!" That "Y" was the key to everything. Oh, and that SPORTY clue was brutal, too (48D: Containing a spoiler) (spoilers are those little raised attachments on the back of SPORTY cars that are supposed to decrease drag) (not to be confused with a "wing," which increases drag ... or so I'm told).

See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

94 comments:

Lewis 6:40 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 6:41 AM  

A solid puzzle, a solid pleasure. I always approach David's puzzles with excitement and have yet to be disappointed. His energy and intelligence, now marked with a growing maturity, are a gift, IMO, in Crossworld.

Fun answers (PARTYGIRL, DEADSEXY, OKEYDOKEY, STIMULI, EVILGRIN) and clever cluing: ACT, ZOO, POETS, SPORTY. Clean as can be. A good workout that was energizing, not TIRING. Thank you for that, David!

Ben 7:15 AM  

Shocked OFL didn't make a comment about LGBT being an answer. Thought it was a very cute way of cluing something progressive. I had the L from STIMULI and started writing LMNO... And ran out of space. Took me awhile attacking the downs but was a nice aha moment.

Forsythia 7:16 AM  

The SE was tough, DNF without Google for me, even with help on BETTIS from my non-puzzling spouse.I wanted cores instead of GISTS so he got me out of that. Much of what Rex said re DEAR____. And the DR-- had me thinking if there was an abbrev for DR Jekyll or other scary doc. Thanks to the blog, I now understand 48D which made no sense.

Fun fast puzzle until that last corner.....thanks!

BarbieBarbie 7:22 AM  

Rex: Oxycontin is not a morally neutral product. Purdue Pharma had data showing its addictive potential and did not disclose it. They had other data showing it was being overprescribed and they did not report it. Oxycontin is a nasty product from a nasty company and it has made tons of money for the Sackler family, who don’t seem to feel any responsibility for the people who have died to make them rich. That’s par for the course these days, I guess, but it’s still evil and in no way neutral.

Great puzzle from my favorite constructor.

kitshef 7:23 AM  

Puzzle gets so much right, including first-rate long answers, but disappoints on the cluing.

‘Thanks, Captain Obvious’ is a terrible clue for the weakest of the long answers. An answer like I REALIZE you want to get folks past as quickly as possible, not draw attention to it.

Same with OH OH. Weak fill, so get us past it asap. Instead, “I know the answer!” is like putting up a neon sign saying "LOOK AT THIS UGLY FILL".

DNF on SnAP/SnEZAK. SnAP seems to me every bit as good an answer as SLAP, so it comes down to needing to know the soap actress – which I did not.

QuasiMojo 7:55 AM  

Anyone who doesn't find "Babes in Toyland" funny is a true stick-in-the-mud. And not a PARTY GIRL or BOY, for that matter. Seriously, Rex, lighten up. Perhaps if Christopher Nolan had directed it and had people killing each other for no reason other than GORE and leaving dead bodies around to rot and SPOIL you'd have found it amusing.

Kudos to David Steinberg for a truly engaging if at times frustrating Friday puzzle. I chuckled a few times at his witticisms but also grimaced at some of the knotty Natickish niches. That section with BETTIS was a killer for me. I had NOR ANY instead of NOT ANY and SPARE ME instead of DEARY ME (which I've only seen as Dearie) making it hard to see DENT. For a moment, I thought of LENO for Bad Impression. Then wanted some Michael Jackson impersonator. I even thought maybe it had to do with spas in Germany... In the end I cheated and googled THE BUS to get that second T in BETTIS and that helped me fix everything else. I don't like to have a DNF but in this case I felt it was the same as calling over to a friend at the next table and asking "hey who was that dude nicknamed The Bus?"

I loved the CICERO quote and JOY BUZZER, LAMB ROAST and OKEY DOKEY. And PANORAMA, EVIL GRIN and DEAD SEXY. Was not so happy with CINNABON. (Perhaps because I find them inedible.)

Hungry Mother 7:59 AM  

Faster than usual for me today, but played fairly hard. I knew BETTIS and guessed CICERO early on.

Anonymous 8:17 AM  

Overall liked this puzzle with some clever cluing... but does anyone say "DRAC"?

As a cancer physician, I see regularly how Oxycontin can help ease the suffering of patients with severe advanced cancer-related pain in the last days of life, so there is a role for it, but agree that it seemed ill-timed.

John Hnedak 8:28 AM  

DRAC? REALLY?

puzzlehoarder 8:42 AM  

This was another disappointingly easy late week puzzle. When you can first guess 1A and immediately support it with three downs like TYRONE, ACT and SNL you know you're in for early week material. OXYCONTIN wasn't as quick because I thought of Vicodin and hydrocodone first but once that went in the NW was finished.

With the exception of BETTIS and SLEZAK the rest of the puzzle went in the same way. The only real hesitation was caused by BARE. 30D could start with a P. I've heard that name but I think it only has one T. After yesterday's TURNABOUT I was worrying that there could be a definition of PARE as an adjective that I've been missing but after a few minutes I quit sweating it and left in the obvious BARE.

Uncle Alvarez 8:49 AM  

I love Oxy.

Barry Frain 8:51 AM  

When it comes to easy answers, David’s puzzles are niggardly.

Barry Frain,
East Biggs, CA

Anonymous 8:57 AM  

No one was tweaked even a little by the PARTY GIRL, DEAD SEXY answers in this era of #METOO? not to mention the EVIL GRIN of a lecher crossing with BARE?

John Hoffman 9:01 AM  

Unhappy with DRAC. “There’s this guy comng to suck your blood. I don’t have a lot of time now, so I’ll just call him DRAC.”

Nancy 9:09 AM  

Is there a double entendre in the clue for PARTY GIRL (17A), or am I just imagining it? Is it deliberate on David's part? Is anyone offended by it? No, don't send in the angry cards and letters -- I'm only kidding, of course.

Thanks for explaining SPORTY, Rex. I didn't understand the clue/answer and I still don't, only now I better understand why I don't.

OKEYDOKEY was a DOOKY answer, and hard to see. The extraneous Y in DEARY ME threw me off, too.

Other than TALESE, didn't know KONG, BETTIS, SLEZAK or any of the other proper names in the SE. Is Erika SLEZAK related to Walter SLEZAK? Walter's what enabled me to get the K.

Thought the clues for BO PEEP, FLAVOR, ETNA, ON HOLD, EVIL GRIN and CASH FLOW were great. Not so wild about I REALIZE and OH OH.

A very nice DS, but with a little too much PPP to be a great one, I'd say.

Anonymous 9:25 AM  

Nothing easy about this one. CICERO? SARI? LONGER could have been about six different things. I've always thought of GOR-ing as opening and "stick"-ing as more of a stab. I've heard of the hole in the OZONE layer, but I've never heard of the "OZONE hole."

The SW was my undoing.

I was super pleased to suss out JOYBUZZER, as I had gag _ _ _ _ _ _ for a long time but the light finally came on.

Troubled by Rex's rating, but that's the way it goes some times.

Charles Flaster 9:29 AM  

Very easy but could not avoid a DNF. My
JOY BUZZER was a tOY BUZZER AND I was basically BAsE and not BARE.
Loved Walter SLEZAK and his stories.
Liked clues for CASH FLOW and CAKE MIX. Did not cotton to OH OH.
Thanks DS

Ken R 9:32 AM  

Couldn't have said it better ! And yes a great puzzle with just enough resistance

Z 9:36 AM  

DR. A.C. is my new nickname for Mother Nature as she dropped the polar hammer on us this week.

Easy until the brutal SE. LAMB ROAST with the Old Testament clue seems especially mischievous to me. I just assumed I was looking for something transliterated from the Hebrew. Being completely ignorant of J.Lo’s oeuvre didn’t help and Heaven to Betsy might as well be a Rap lyric for all the good it does in suggesting any particular old timey oath. So a TDNF since I resorted to Uncle Google to discover that I’m Real is by ARod’s girlfriend.

G. Weissman 9:37 AM  

You know who calls Dracula DRAC for short? Exactly no one.

Two Ponies 9:41 AM  

Dead sexy sounds like necrophilia.

Somehow I am proud not to know the football player, video game, or soap opera.

Swirly sweet should make a certain blogger happy.

D.S.'s puzzles are getting better with age. More flavorful?

Tim Aurthur 9:42 AM  

The SE was certainly wicked, but I also got stuck for a while in the SW with IREAdyou crossing fuNDS. Yes, wrong guesses do kill.

I know what SPOILERS are on an airplane, but didn't know about the sports car version. Thanks for the explanation. This is why I come here.

jackj 9:49 AM  

Erika Slezak is Walter Slezak's daughter, according to his obit.

Carola 9:55 AM  

Gosh, this was fun. It wasn't easy for me at all, requiring some satisfying Friday brain-racking. I had to work especially hard for the right half, with names I didn't know - and, man, that "spoiler" clue! Last in: EVIL GRIN, after changing the barbershop job from SHApE to SHAVE.

re: DRAC - in 1958 there was a hit record called "Dinner with Drac." An example of not only FLAVOR coming with age but also reams of crossword-handy trivia.

@Lewis, I agree with you entirely about the evolution of David Steinberg's puzzles. I thought about that myself in oonnection with today's puzzle, with his relationship to the solver changing from an EVIL GRIN ("Lots of luck on solving this one, folks, heh heh heh") to a "let's have some fun" GRIN.

Mohair Sam 9:56 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robso 9:57 AM  

This played hard for me. I don’t google, but since my nine-year-old son was within earshot I asked if he knew any peanut throwing Nintendo characters . . . couldn’t have finished without him.

Candy Darling 10:02 AM  

Was @evil doug in the USAF?

GILL I. 10:09 AM  

I was singing. Having fun because I really do enjoy most of David's puzzles. Not so much this one. I just got frustrated as hell with all the proper names I did not know. I suppose for the smart set they were gettable but not for moi. How was I supposed to get BETTIS the bus man when pure and simple is BARE? The only ENGEL I know is Laura and then you go and side to side you slip in SLEZAK and the forgetful TALESE.
DEARY ME? Maybe BOPEEP would utter that but dear lord, that's a stretch.
Had OXICOdone instead of the correct OXYCONTIN. I've never taken the stuff - scares me silly. My girlfriend had nasty surgery on her knee and the doctors sent her home with a closet full of the stuff. She was in horrible pain - said it was worse than delivering a baby via the squat method. Anyway, she became addicted - quickly. She'd pop the pills for her early morning STIMULI like there was no tomorrow. I finally insisted I take her back to the doctors and demand they do something. I was yelling like a mad woman because my friend was totally hooked and wanted to stay on them the rest of her life. After much pleading she was eventually admitted Into a rehab clinic. It took 4 weeks of god-awful pain and tears and agony before she was finally clean. Now she's on Norco.....! What the hell to do with pain? No one wants it.
I REALIZE is the answer to Captain Obvious? Who he? Like the different cluing for HAN . Who said EXACTO mundo? Was it the Fonz?
@Two Ponies. Yeah. DEAD SEXY sounds a bit necro like. My only good laugh.

Jeff 10:09 AM  

This felt Friday hard to me. I’m one of the few lucky ones who got BETTIS right away, so the mid-Atlantic fell pretty easily. It took me several minutes to get that SE section, because I’ve never heard of SLEZAK, didn’t know that ELO album and don’t know much about Gay TALESE. I liked the A-ha!’s there (ZOO, SPOILER). Good Friday puzzle!

Roo Monster 10:09 AM  

Hey All !
Steelers fan, so BETTIS was one of the only answers I got right away. I thought this was a rather tough puz. Who had MNOP for LGBT first? black-OZONE, REDelm-REDfir-REDOAK, PeErS-POEmS-POETS, TeeS-TOYS, and more which I think have blocked from the ole brain. DRAC was iffy. A few others that y'all have pointed out also.

So not the most revolutionary FriPuz, but it fits the bill OKEYDOKEY-ily.

REDOAK is almost RE-DOOK. :-)

CINNABON LUNACY
RooMonster
DarrinV



Mohair Sam 10:15 AM  

Yeah it was a fun Friday, Steinberg just gets better and better. Not to say a couple of the nits mentioned above aren't worth picking. But this was one of those puzzles that had us beaten (at least on the Eastern side)and then we gradually filled - best kind of puzz - so we're not complaining.

One look at 62A and we moaned "Oh no, some strange religious word we've never heard." - LAMB ROAST. Oh. Loved the clue for SPORTY. ENGEL and SLEZAK both unknown here, toughened things up. And I'm with @Quasimojo - not a fan of CINNABON - why would you eat that stuff when there are Dunkin's all over the place?

21A "In telephone hell?" (ONHOLD) needed a question mark? - proof that Will Shortz has someone else placing his calls. That question mark belonged on 60D "Leopard spots" (ZOO).

Stanley Hudson 10:21 AM  

A tough but fair and fun Friday. Steinberg is approaching greatness.

kitshef 10:40 AM  

Out from his coffin, DRAC's voice did ring
Seems he was troubled by just one thing
Opened the lid and shook his fist and said
"Vatever happened to my Transylvania tvist"?

Warren Howie Hughes 10:43 AM  

Me likey this SPORTY Friday offering from the nimble mind of David Steinberg that was EXACTO what the Doctor ordered and OKAYDOKEY by me!

QuasiMojo 10:52 AM  

@Nancy, et al, I’m too busy to google it but I think Walter Slezajk was the famous opera singer Leo Slezak’s son.

Blinky 10:53 AM  

"Oh, and that SPORTY clue was brutal, too (48D: Containing a spoiler) (spoilers are those little raised attachments on the back of SPORTY cars that are supposed to decrease drag) (not to be confused with a "wing," which increases drag ... or so I'm told)."

Not quite. Spoilers aren't meant to decrease drag, they're meant to increase downforce, so as to increase tire traction and vehicle stability. A spoiler IS a wing, just at a steeper pitch. All wings increase drag to a degree, given the friction of air moving over them. But that isn't the main function of a spoiler.

retired guy 11:12 AM  

think of a spoiler as an upside-down wing... a wing is meant to give you lift, so the plane takes off into the air... a spoiler pushes the rear end of the car down, so as to make sure you have good traction and don't skid when you try to turn.

Birchbark 11:16 AM  

BABES IN TOYLAND was an all-female punk band in Minneapolis in the early '90s heyday.

"It may come with age" is a great clue for FLAVOR. Good that it crosses CINNABON, but better that CINNABON crosses CICERO -- the wonderful crossword microcosm.

ABC, it's easy as DEARY ME.





Dolgo 11:20 AM  

Erika was Walter's daughter. He was a character actor in the 50's to 80's appearing in many films, notably Hitchcock's "Lifeboat." Her grandfather was Leo Slezak, a top operatic tenor who sang a huge number of roles, including the title one in Verdi's "Otello." He also was a great wit. In a production of "Lohengrin," when that character exits in a swan boat, a stage hand didn't have the boat ready, Slezak ad-libbed, "What time is the next swan," much to the delight of the audience. Walter used that line as the title of his autobiography.

John Child 11:21 AM  

An awful lot of PPP in the east and especially the SE. A little uncomfortable about PARTY GIRL, compounded by DEAD SEXY. But per the constructor notes this was a teenage puzzle that surfaced after three years.

Seventh appearance of LGBT this year; is there a pinkish tinge to the Gray Lady now? If so it’s welcome.

EVIL twIN plagued me as well as fake for {Joke shop purchase}. Saturday time here.

'mericans in Paris 11:21 AM  

OOF. This was the first Friday puzzle that Mrs. 'mericans and I ever filled in completely, though DNF because I gave up and Googled BETTIS. Pretty much then what @kitshef and @QuasiMojo said regarding the complete experience.

And clearly we've been living outside the USA too long, as neither of us has ever heard the term DEAD SEXY. As several of the others here have already commented, my first thought was -- does this have something to do with necrophilia?

Had a number of the same write-overs as @Rex, including GluE before GORE. Also tOY BUrgER -- you know, the kind you slip on somebody's plate and it makes a squeak when the unsuspecting diner bites into it? Right.

I'm not depressed by OXYCONTIN. It exists, and the cluing is neutral. I was more depressed, by contrast, with the answer to "Leopard spot" being ZOO. With so many species of large mammals experiencing dwindling numbers in the wild, I hope that youngsters these days still have some knowledge about those beast's native habitats. A clue I would have liked better for ZOO, then, would have been "Auf'm Bahnhof ___" (Nina Hagen song title)." A real PARTY GIRL, that Nina Hagen!

POETS ARISING
BARE LUNACY
TIRING PANORAMA
REPEAT

Joseph Drac Michael 11:23 AM  

The FLAVOR of DS puzzles has definitely improved with age. Fewer esoteric terms and more wordplay. Would still like to see fewer proper nouns like BETTIS, KONG, and CINNABUN.

Really liked the clues for ZOO, TOYS, and SPORTY and really hated EXACTO. Does anybody actually say that? Not crazy either about I REALIZE which feels like an incomplete statement seeking a direct object.

Funny to see Al GORE crossing the GOP.

But lots of fun throughout, from PARTY GIRL to OKEY DOKEY. JOY BUZZER is a great entry, too, but the actual item seems like an accessory for a sadist. Perhaps one with an EVIL GRIN?

jberg 11:49 AM  

I blame myself for my DNF -- I should have paid more attention to the 'Nintendo' in the clue, and remembered Donkey Kong. Instead, I decided it must be KONn, and that a pith might be some kind of a nest. (I knew the other meaning, but maybe there was an alternate one, I figured). Of course I didn't know BETTIS, because football, so the e instead of I didn't bother me.

I got SenEca off the E in AT BEST; too bad it was wrong, because it gave me LaNkER, and that K was tough to work with.

DEARY ME didn't bother me at all. If you are going to say "Dear me!" then you are going to say "Good Heavens," instead of Heavens to Betsy, IMHO.

Remake before REPEAT, but it had to be GOP, so that didn't last.

Jon Roberts 11:51 AM  

+1

boomer54 12:01 PM  


RE: jackj's {9:49} comment on the Slezak family ... Leo was Walter's father ..and a noted Wagnerian tenor ... During a performance of LOHENGRIN ...
he was ready to make his knightly entrance riding a swan ... { a carnival-
style vehicle on a mechanical chain } when the stage hand activated the
prop sans Leo who inquired of him ...WHAT TIME IS THE NEXT SWAN ?

Odd Sock 12:04 PM  

Spoilers on street cars make me laugh.
Yah, sure, you're going to drive that Honda so fast that you need something to hold you down.
In your dreams.

Masked and Anonymous 12:17 PM  

John Zacherle had a top ten 1958 hit, with his "Dinner with DRAC" song. Sooo … y'all can blame 55-A on him.

M&A Help Desk
--------------

fave fillins: JOYBUZZER [extra-scrabbly]. CINNABON [prefer regular cinnamon rolls, tho].
staff weeject pick: RGS. Plural abbrev meat. Nice, and desperate.
The clues were a tad bland, this time out. {Leopard spot} = ZOO was sorta a hi-lite.

DEAD and SEXY don't seem to fit together well … unless it's a schlock flick about "PARTY GIRLS vs. DRAC INC.", or somesuch.

Couldn't spell OXYCONTIN worth a snot. Had OXICOTTON, for a while. Also kinda had trouble correctly arrangin the L-G-B-T letters, even tho I knew they were all in there somewhere. How did they establish top billin order? Might help M&A remember.

Thanx, Steinbergmeister. Fun, but not dead exacto party sexy.

Masked & AnonymoUUs


**gruntz**

Trombone Tom 12:18 PM  

I agree that David Steinberg's puzzles are getting better, at least I'm able to solve them. Didn't get some of the names, but the crosses were fair.

Never heard DRAC or DEARY ME. Don't remember seeing CASH FLOW clued before, but the definition is right on.

Would not have understood the SPORTY clue without coming here.

A zippy Friday!

JC66 12:43 PM  

Like @ kitshef I know DRAC from Monster Mash

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNuVifA7DSU

(song starts at about :50)

Carola 1:11 PM  

@Dolgo 11:20 and @boomer54 12:01 - I didn't know about the connection between Leo, Walter, and Erika Slezak, but I did know about the swan. I began teaching German in the days of yesteryear when textbook authors thought that American undergrads would be interested in anecdotes about German opera singers, hence the "Lohengrin" story, with the punchline, "Wann fährt der nächste Schwann?" I'd love to have heard the audience's reaction to that one.

QuasiMojo 1:13 PM  

@‘Mericans, thanks for reminding me of Nina Hagen. I used to listen to her all the time. Pre-Emo!

John 1:22 PM  

A sporty car has a spoiler, or there’s a spoiler on a car, but does anyone say that a car “contains” a spoiler?

‘mericans in Paris 1:36 PM  

Good point, @John,

Charley 1:40 PM  

I’m clearly in the minority but Steinberg’s puzzles are awful. Dearyme? For reals?

Big Steve 46 1:53 PM  

I keep hoping David Steinberg will find a new hobby, or discover girls ... or something aside from puzzle making. But the rest of you guys seem to love him, so who am I to quibble?

And, on a more general note: are there really people who actually, honestly in their own heart-of-hearts get genuinely offended by the fill in a crossword puzzle?? Must be a tough slog for you guys getting through the realities of everyday life.

Joe McHale 1:55 PM  

If you are a football fan, you will remember Jerome Bettis as the receiver of the famous “Immaculate Reception” thrown by Terry Bradshaw in a playoff game.

evil doug 2:11 PM  

Franco Harris

Anonymous 2:13 PM  

@joe McHale

that was franco harris of the immaculate reception fame; Jerome bettis was a much more recent vintage steeler

RT

OISK 2:30 PM  

I'm part of Charley's (1:40_) minority. While I did finish, when too many of the answers are completely meaningless to me, it spoils the pleasure. Deary me?? Does anyone actually say that? ELO again? I DNF on that a few weeks ago, so this time I thought of it. I do remember Joy buzzers, so I got "JLO" who apparently sang "I'm real." Exacto? I actually HAVE heard "Exactamundo," but Exacto sounds like a product name. Don't like the clue for poets either, yeah, stress, I get it, never heard "dead sexy," (perhaps that is applied to Drac?) never heard of Georgia Engel, hot show with a cold open?? If it's a 3 letter show, I think SNL, which I don't watch, and have no idea what the clue means. Never heard of Erica Slezak, but remember Walter very well ( he played Panisse in the Broadway show "Fanny.") Diddy Kong??

Not for me, Mr. Steinberg, although at least you have gotten away from Hip-hop slang, Apple products and sneaker brands.

HOWEVER, if even someone as pop-culture challenged as I can finish it, there is something very right about the overall design of the puzzle.

Chad 2:52 PM  

A SPOILER doesn't decrease drag. It improves tire contact with the road at high speeds. But it accomplishes neither when contained in a car, only when mounted on one. PS I had a snarkier "I read, too" for I REALIZE and that slowed me down in the SW.

Old Fat Basterd 2:53 PM  

@Joe McHale trying hard to be one of the boys. Major fail.

Amelia 2:55 PM  

@evil doug. (Your comment yesterday)

Just did Thursday's WSJ puzzle. It's ingenious. And as the commenter said on Crossword Fiend, there is no compromise in the fill whatsoever. Compared to these anemic puzzles at the NY Times, the WSJ puzzles are really taking over as the premier puzzles in the area. For the moment, you can still easily download a PDF, but I'll have to pay one of these days. I really look forward to them. I don't look forward to the Times crossword. Still love the variety puzzles, but not the Xword.

Two Ponies 3:30 PM  

@ Amelia, After your post about Maura Jacobson yesterday I went to Amazon to look for some of her work and put one on my wish list. I frequently buy used books there, usually paperbacks, and noticed you could buy used crossword books!? WTF? Also, one of Maura Jacobson's books was listed for $1,900. Another WTF. Anyway, thanks for the suggestion.

Fugu 3:45 PM  

Venting my displeasure over GISTS crossed by 4 proper names. I knew 1 of the 4 and could not finish.

Candy Darling 3:59 PM  

Poor @Fungu 3:45. First world problem, brah.

Robert A. Simon 5:38 PM  

Can't leave today without a few words about the anything-but-forgettable Gay Talese. On a list of "Best American Journalists, 1950-2000," if he's not #1, who is? Jimmy Breslin? Maybe. Hunter S. Thompson? Could be. Tom Wolfe, perhaps. But Talese's Esquire article, "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold" is generally credited with ushering in New Journalism. Do read it. If it isn't the best thing you read this week, please tell me what is. It's on the Esquire site. You still don't get out of Medill, Newhouse, Missouri or Columbia without reading it, and it appeared 51 years ago.

If nothing else, check out the Google entry about the piece--and yes, it has its own entry.

Joe Dipinto 5:40 PM  

Mary: "That's a nice skirt you're wearing, Georgette. Is it new?"

Georgette: "Pretty new. I got it this afternoon."


Or something like that. Georgia Engel excelled at playing that space cadette.

This was a nice Friday puzzle. I was looking for a bit more of a challenge in view of it being a David Steinberg submission, but no complaints really. Though I've never heard or seen anyone referred to as "dead sexy". Is that a new-ish thing? It sounds old, actually, but I've never come across it.

OISK 5:40 PM  

Amelia (2:55) admired yesterdays WSJ puzzle. It IS brilliant, but it has an impossible (for me) Natick that Steinberg's puzzle does not. "Hero pursued by agent Smith " N_O. Crossing the last name "Segal", or is it Segel." No way for me to guess at all, and a character from a movie is too obscure for that kind of cross. Sorry, I don't think Will would have let that one through. Especially since NEO can be clued so many other ways, while my incorrect guess NAO cannot. Bad construction no matter how brilliant the rest.

(apologies for commenting on a different puzzle)

Anonymous 5:45 PM  

So now our vile, cockroachy Rextrolls are taking on cutesy blog names. @Candy Darling -- any relation to Carlos Danger? @Old Fat Basterd -- any relation to Old Fat Bastard? And you said it, we didn't. Though we probably should have. You're both loathsome h8ers.

Joe Dipinto 6:18 PM  

Candy Darling was a mainstay of Andy Warhol's Factory back in the 60's, she was played by Stephen Dorff in the movie "I Shot Andy Warhol".

Joe Dipinto 6:27 PM  

@John 1:22 -- you have a point. It's like saying a car contains windshield wipers, or tires.

Anonymous 6:56 PM  

Tough for me but satisfying. The left side was easy but the whole right side was tough. Got the SE before the NE. First problem was putting GOAD for GORE and REPLAY for REPEAT both of which seemed plausible. Had to give up and erase because none of the downs were working. After getting the SE, I had no real entry to the NE because I didn’t know KONG or BETTIS. Putting NOTONE for NOTANY held me up forever. Rex is right that you have to give up on answers you’re sure are right. Very happy when I finally got it.

Disciple of Nan'l 8:07 PM  

Smiled at GORE (as in the Al variety) crossing GOP!

Disciple of Nan'l 8:12 PM  

Smiled at GORE (as in the Al variety) crossing GOP!

Buggy Bunny 8:47 PM  

FWIW, a spoiler is a (nearly) vertical strip (usually metal) attached along its length to the back/trunk of the SPORTY car. a wing is a (nearly) horizontal air foil (not just a strip of material) mounted upside down to an aeroplane wing, attached by posts to the back/trunk.

Arising Cake Mix 9:40 PM  

Was just trying to come up with the word JOYBUZZER the other day.
That with ABC in the puzzle and I have to drag out my story of accidentally meeting Michael Jackson in the HOllywood Magic and Toy Shop in the late 80s.
Gone in there to buy a JOYBUZZER for some sort of costume (I honestly can't remember why)
They were ringing up my purchase and I turned around and there was MJ, buying lots of toys for a little boy.
He was surprisingly tall and he had no nose. It was just sunken in, like a skull. And his skin was like pock-marked wax.
I gasped. I was literally frightened.
But when I realized it was Michael Jackson, I tried to pretend that I had gasped in recognition.
But it was really haunting and I couldn't figure out why he didn't scare the child. He didn't look human. He looked like a wax museum Mickey Mouse type giant creature come to life.

That said, I loved the puzzle, tho DEARgod held me up, unsure about the B in BETTIS, didn't understand teh spoiler clue, but otherwise easy-peasy, OKEYDOKEY.

@Disciple of Nan'l 8:07pm EXACTO same thought!

Loved all the Xs and Zs flying around and EVILGRIN next to DEADSEXY was fabulous.
I think I thought it was OXYCOtTIN, and have never noticed the spelling>
Despite serving folks strung out on it everyday, it didn't depress me, it made me feel that young David was very withit and up-to-date.

semioticus (shelbyl) 11:30 PM  

This puzzle could have been really good. The SE corner was absolutely joyless. That could have been averted by better answers, or if you want to stick to your obscure choice of proper nouns at least clue them better. SLEZAK-TALESE crossing ELO, JLO-REDOAK-DEARYME partly crossing DRAC, man, those are some horrible choices. As if those answers are ot hard enough, we get the "Containing a spoiler, say" clue for SPORTY. Dude, you have already wrecked me there, at least give me something!

Some other problems in other places too. "Thanks, Captain Obvious" = IREALIZE? What the frak? PARTYGIRL clue was a bit tasteless for me as well. I guess I'm getting old.

There were some great clues/answers too, don't get me wrong; but when you try too hard, you turn people away. That shouldn't be your goal as a constructor. I don't remember the good parts of this puzzle. I remember the half an hour I spent on that dreadful SE corner before I finally gave up and checked my answers. Guess what, apparently you can spell OKIEDOKIE as OKEYDOKEY!

GRADE: C, 2.55 stars.

Disciple of Nanl 5:24 AM  

Thank you for being the first to shout out my very first post ever Arising Cake Mix. Do you prepare baked goods for opiate addicts or are you a healthcare professional?!

Dennis Doubleday 11:09 AM  

This was an unenjoyable slog for me. First time I haven't finished.

Diana, LIW 11:22 AM  

In defense of David: - I got those "impossible" answers, and I'm three times his age. So there, whiners. I'm old, I'm no PARTYGIRL, but my husband has a SPORTY car. ;-) ('K, it's not "REALSEXY," - it's a car, a car, OKEYDOKEY) And for the record - JLO and ELO visit the crosswords ALL THE TIME!!!

I lived in NJ, where we RE DO AKs frequently.

But...this did give me the good DS run for the money. This was not a "spell c.a.t. puzzle" Why? Because it's Friday. REPEAT as needed.

Still had a great moon ARISING last night, reflecting on the bay - made me reflect on the date...

PUXATAWNEY PHIL, Waiting for Lady Di to predict the weather

Burma Shave 11:35 AM  

LUNACY ONHOLD

IREALIZE NOTANY PARTYGIRL’s a trophy,
or ATBEST, SEMI-DEADSEXY to begin,
but STIMULI ARISING make it OKEYDOKEY,
to REPEAT the BARE ACT with an EVILGRIN.

--- TYRONE SLEZAK

spacecraft 12:54 PM  

No, not easy-medium. Challenging. I put gimme BETTIS in, then stared. I thought "Oh dear me--" NOT DEARYME, which is not only unheard-of but horrible. I don't even remember how I got restarted after that, but I eventually did complete it, producing one of the biggest triumph factors ever.

Naturally tried MNOP for letters before Q (duh!), but that didn't yield anything. NOTANY. The key was getting ATBEST, which led to BALI--and an -I ending for a plural clue: hence STIMULI. After that things started to fill in; maybe it was more like medium-challenging. Let's go with that.

I have never heard of the term DEADSEXY; sounds like something a necrophiliac would say. But whatever: PARTYGIRL JLO surely fits that description and thus is awarded the DOD sash (he said with an EVILGRIN).

The awful DEARYME and the already-trite OHOH marred an otherwise brilliant grid. Birdie.

thefogman 1:15 PM  

Easy-medium my eye! I completed this one but it took a lot of time and effort. Challenging-Near-Impossible is more like it. Very devious cluing. Every square was a battle. The Bic corporation thanks Mr. Steinberg for being responsible for the dramatic increase in the consumption of Bic Wite-Out©

thefogman 1:52 PM  

I got the answer (SNL) but I still don't get the clue: Hot show with a cold open...

rondo 1:54 PM  

1d BOPEEP a gimme, then a buncha little inkfests slowed things. The old R&R song PARTYdolL at first, hand up for mnop, BAsE before BARE, GluE before GORE, and I had wisdOm coming with age before FLAVOR. Brain musta been in the OZONE today.

Kinda funny, as mentioned above, GORE crossing the GOP.

Normalcy is ONHOLD in the Twin Cities as we host Super Bowl LII. Lotsa celebrities and performances all over the towns including DEADSEXY yeah baby JLO. Good luck trying to get into that show. And good luck to @spacey’s Eagles.

With all those splotches this puz took LONGER than it shoulda.

thefogman 1:54 PM  

OK. Got it...

A cold open (also called a teaser, or just a cold, especially in production circles) is a narrative tactic used in television and/or films. It is the technique of jumping directly into a story at the beginning or opening of the show before the title sequence or opening credits are shown.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_open

rondo 1:56 PM  

@foggy - the cold open is when they just start in with a skit, before running any credits or titles, etc.

thefogman 1:57 PM  

Cheers Rondo!

rondo 1:58 PM  

OKEYDOKEY then, IREALIZE I was typing/posting while you were after uncle google.

thefogman 3:01 PM  

@Rondo: There's NOTANY reason to be SARI. You did me a FLAVOR.

rainforest 3:25 PM  

Tough, tough...but do-able. OXYCONTIN was my first entry, and I had STIMULI in place so started to write in Lmno, and thought 'hah, someone made a mistake". Yeah, it was me.

DEARY ME is fine except I would have thought it was spelled DEARie. I think my Mom used to say that, or someone of her ilk did. I could only get SLEZAK from crosses, and I had all sorts of trouble throughout.

My 1994 Nissan Sentra SE-R is the only car of my experience whose appearance is improved by a spoiler. It was extremely SPORTY. Still miss it.

DEAD SEXY is something I'm sure I've heard Sean Connery say. I know I've heard it (see: DEARY ME).

Yes, challenging, but I finished it. Sweet victory.

Red Valerian 7:37 PM  

So, nobody had Elbowjab for EVILGRIN? Heh, heh, heh. Got the wrong answer off the E, and what I thought was shebA, but was IONIA. Oh, well. I figured it out and it was fun! Loved the spoiler clue for SPORTY.

Cinnabon 2:09 AM  

Too easy. DEARY ME, OKEY DOKEY, too many dusty references. State tree... ho hum...zzzz. The Bo Beep clue was captain obvious. The SE put up a little fight, but it wasn't very satisfying to solve. As exciting as a LAMB ROAST....CAKE MIX. What were the seed entries for this puzzle? The HAN clue should have referenced the HAN Chinese or, better yet, a clever Solo (Star Wars) clue.

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